Kyrgyzstan's social buzz-hub for listicles and other trivial articles spurred a storm of commentary this week when it published the article 32 Qualities the Ideal Kelin Should Possess. After readers bombed the website with accusations of gender stereotyping and worse, Limon.kg published a follow-up article: 32 Qualities the Ideal Kuyoo-bala Should Possess.
Side by side, the two articles present the impossibly high standards traditional families in the Central Asian country apply to their female and male in-laws — especially females. Illustrating just how impossible these standards are might well have been among the website's reasons for publishing the pieces, along with racking up page views.
As Limon.kg offered no explanation for the two viral articles, we will never know.
The kelin (female in-law) occupies an important if often downtrodden role in the traditional Kyrgyz household. Her arrival there via marriage to one of its eligible males effectively frees the mother of that household of many of her homemaking responsibilities.
Essentially, the kelin does nearly everything, which explains significant maternal support for practices such as bride kidnapping in the country.
As per Eurasianet:
The typical kelin, or live-in daughter-in-law is expected to be the epitome of servitude in most rural Central Asian families. Her mother-in-law on the other hand, is a character of unrelenting wickedness, as evidenced by her portrayal in many Central Asian films.
Take as an example Saida Rametova’s character in the well-known Uzbek comedy flick Super Kelinchak, who makes her Slavic daughter-in-law’s life a living nightmare by constantly criticising shortcomings in her vegetable-chopping skills and in other household chores. Or Turakhan Sadykova’s character in the Kazakh film Kelin, which one reviewer described as “an old hag with mystical connections to nature.”
The kuyoo-bala, is the kelin‘s opposite number: the man that invited her into his family's household.
Limon.kg's first article concerned the kelin.
According to Limon.kg she should have the following qualities to mention but a few:
- She's a good little bird that gets up earlier than everyone else and goes to bed later than everyone else.
- The ideal kelin pours tea with her right hand, but never a full cup (because she should enjoy pouring tea for guests repeatedly).
- When there are older relatives around she is quiet and only answers when she is asked something.
- The length of her skirt should be in correspondence with the situation.
- She does not look directly into the eyes of her husband's relatives.
- She makes wonderful besh barmak (lit. ‘five fingers, a traditional Kyrgyz dish).
- She does the housework without a sound.
Limon's article was controversial not least because the website's main readership lives in the capital Bishkek where internet is widely available and gender roles both in and outside marriage are somewhat less tightly defined than in the country's villages.
Comments underneath the article and on Limon.kg's facebook page included:
ГЕНДЕРНОМУ РАВНОПРАВИЮ – ДОРОГУ ПОЖАЛУЙСТА
The road to gender equality, thank you!
кроме смеха эта статья не может ничего вызывать. А Лимон за такое женаненавистничество надо банить
This article deserves nothing other than ridicule. And Limon for this gender hatred should be banned.
While one man wrote:
Вот такую жену и на руках носить можно, я бы даже сказал нужно!!! Да обязаны просто))) Всем девушкам счастья в браке, будьте хорошими келинками)))
Such a wife you could — and should — carry in your arms!!! For all girls to have a happy marriage — be good kelins!
And received the following reply:
А разве у нее, бедняги, будет время на Ваших руках покататься? Она же вроде, встает и ложится раньше всех (в том числе желающего поносить ее на руках)… И еще, почему обязана? А ей, надо полагать, никто и ничего не должен… Печально!!
And will the poor thing have time to take a ride in your arms? She already gets up and goes to sleep later than everybody else (including those that would carry her in their arms) and moreover why should she have to do any of this? Misery!!!
да здравствует 19 век и женщины без права голоса, молчащие при муже и его святых родственниках. Жду статью – За что можно бить женщину: За плохой бешбармак, За то, что взглянула в глаза мужу, За то, что попалась на пути, когда муж зол…
Welcome to the 19th century where women have no right to speak and stay quiet in front of the husband and his sacred relatives. Now I am waiting for the article What Can You Beat a Woman For?: for [making] bad beshbarmak, for looking into her husband's eyes, for being in the way when he is angry…
Ждем теперь идеальные качества kuyio bala)))
Now we wait for the ideal qualities for a male in-law…
That wish was granted days later.
According to Limon.kg, a good kuyoo-bala:
- Gives a good dowry.
- Should be able to cut and divide a lamb.
- Should be able to chop wood.
- Should be able to master the art of horseriding.
- Should be able to read the koran (Kyrgyzstan is 90% Muslim but knowledge of the religion is weak in many parts of the country after over 70 years of Soviet rule and a mostly nomadic heritage).
- Proves himself an excellent fighter in Kurosh (traditional style of wrestling) duels.
- Is brave and courageous and could bring his pregnant wife the heart of a tiger, if she so asked.
By this point, there was a creeping consensus Limon.kg were ‘trolling’ their readership, and comments became somewhat more light-hearted:
Заметьте, нету пункта о том что куйоо бала должен быть хорош в постели
Have you noticed there isn't a point about how he should be good in bed?